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Free At Noon Flashback: The Stray Birds share a special set to celebrate the release of Magic Fire

The Stray Birds | Photo by Kimberly Ilkowski for WXPN | ilkowski.com
The Stray Birds | Photo by Kimberly Ilkowski for WXPN | ilkowski.com

Early on in The Stray Birds‘ Free At Noon set Friday, Oliver Craven took a moment to instruct the audience. “We were told to avoid dead air,” he said. “So keep clapping.” It was a playful moment during a special set for the trio-turned-quartet from Lancaster. Friday marks the release of their newest album Magic Fire, produced by the legendary Larry Campbell, and as Maya de Vitry added after Craven’s remark, the band was having so much fun finally playing some new songs. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Kyle Craft brings his ragtime rock to World Cafe Live

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Kyle Craft | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

As Kyle Craft kicked off his Free At Noon set Friday, the man in front of me took ten seconds to record a quick video of the Portland-based, Louisiana-bred musician. But when he went to caption the video to inform his Snapchat followers of whose music he was taking in, the man typed “Kyle Graft.” He even made the font extra large, adding further reason to suspect it wasn’t an unnoticed error — he most likely thought Craft’s name actually started with the letter G. (On the other hand, it’s pretty rad that a guy comes out to see a band he doesn’t know that well, on a Friday afternoon, just to discover new music!) Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Earnest on her electric, Margaret Glaspy echoes folk and grunge vibes

Margaret Glasby | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com
Margaret Glaspy | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

With wide-eyed wonder, an audience member in the front row grabbed the arm of her friend as singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy took her voice from a tender warble to an impassioned gravel. Not quite folk and not quite grunge, Glaspy has carved out her own space in the scene to encapsulate the myriad of sounds she blends together. With her debut album Emotions and Math released in June, Glaspy power-packed her performance with as many tracks from the new LP as she could fit, even treating the crowd to encore featuring a just-written, untitled track. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Quilt creates a groovin’ dreamscape of sound

Quilt | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com
Quilt | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

After a dreamy psychedelic performance at Johnny Brenda’s in March and as one of the must hear new acts at Firefly Music Festival last month, we were more than excited to welcome back the New England indie rockers Quilt for a Free At Noon show before their headlining gig at The Foundry later this evening. Riding a wave opportunities following the February release of their third LP Plaza, the band is back and ready to inspire with a fresh batch of airy tracks that exude their mellow rock influences.

More than half of the band’s set was dedicated to the new material, including the Plaza standout “Roller” near the end of the set, where vocalist and guitarist Anna Fox Rochinski floats through this impossibly light song. Throughout the set, Rochiniski and vocalist and guitarist Shane Butler would swap vocal duties, even having drummer John Andrews join in on the fun for his own verses. But the band was its strongest when it came together for group vocals, a perfectly synced listening delight. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Philly’s first look at the Local Natives of Sunlit Youth

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Local Natives | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

It’s no question that Local Natives have evolved. As the LA indie rockers played their recent single “Villainy” at Friday’s Free At Noon, an obvious change had taken place — all stringed instruments had been put down. Guitarist Ryan Hahn traded in for an electronic percussion pad, Taylor Rice dropped his guitar for strictly vocal duties, and bassist Nik Ewing switch over to the keys.

Anyone who hasn’t been staying current on Local Natives news might be shocked at such a development. It was those very strings, linked with rich harmonies, that defined the sound of the band’s first two album’s, 2010’s Gorilla Manor and 2013’s Hummingbird. But if you’ve been following the release of tracks from their forthcoming album Sunlit Youth, the on-stage alterations were not just expected, but appreciated as well. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Oh Pep! serves up an irresistible piece of Stadium Cake

Oh Pep! | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Oh Pep! | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Disaster struck for Oh Pep! during Friday’s Free At Noon.

Olivia Hally, one half of the Australian duo, had broken a guitar string during “Tea, Milk & Honey,” the band’s fifth song of a set that surely had to continue. Hally admitted the dilemma, usually remedied by a spare guitar, could only be fixed by restringing.

“That’s how rock and roll we are,” said Hally, in reference to the fact that she traveled to World Cafe Live with just one six-string. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Hurry headlines a killer gig on World Cafe Live stage

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Hurry | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

The pros of having a pale yellow and white guitar is, of course, that it looks real cool. The cons? It makes for a bit of a gory scene when you slice your finger open. Yet, amidst the bloodshed and airborne plush monkeys (more on that later), Philadelphia indie poppers Hurry prevailed, offering a spectacular set at this Friday’s XPN Free At Noon concert. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Mitski mesmerizes before second sold out show

Mitski | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN
Mitski | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN

Not only does 24-year-old singer / songwriter / bass player Mitski Miyawaki know how to pack a room — what with a sold out show last night at Boot and Saddle and another tonight at PhilaMOCA — but within that crowded atmosphere, there’s a very intimate quality to her performances. Mitski’s gripping eight-song set at World Cafe Live’s Free At Noon today was both sonically and visually stimulating. Observing Miyawaki’s quiet yet unmistakable confidence on stage, a fan smiling and singing along parallel to another overcome with emotion, and watching those discover Mitski’s music for the first time; each group brought an inherently interesting dynamic to the show that truly made it a spectacle. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Dylan LeBlanc tells his Cautionary Tale

 Dylan Le Blanc | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

Dylan Le Blanc | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

Dylan LeBlanc and his band walked out onto the World Cafe Live stage for Friday’s WXPN Free At Noon Concert, greeted by a thick crowd hungry for the singer-songwriter’s Louisiana-born country rock. But before a single note was played, LeBlanc ran off the stage, only to return with a few bagels in hand. He launched the breaded discs into the audience. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Escondido channels the Wild West at World Cafe Live

Escondido | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Escondido | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Escondido wasn’t satisfied with the initial reaction to their introduction at Friday’s Free at Noon, so they requested another. The people of World Cafe Live perked up upon a repeat intro, giving the band what they asked for. The band took the stage and Tyler James, one half of the Nashville-based duo, blasted his trumpet just in case the demand for a more lively crowd didn’t infuse enough energy into the room. Escondido’s set was emphatically under way. Continue reading →